Caring for Chrysanthemums Through the Winter Months

Overwintering mums is possible. Many gardeners treat mums (officially Chrysanthemums) as annuals because they think they are at best a finicky perennial. But this doesn’t have to be the case. With just a little winter care for mums, these fall beauties can come back year after year. Keep reading to learn more about how to winterize mums.

Chrysanthemums, also known as mums, are a popular fall flower that provide a burst of color to gardens and landscapes. While they are commonly grown as annuals, with a little TLC, mums can be overwintered and rebloom the next year. Protecting chrysanthemum plants during the winter is straightforward, but does require some specific care. This guide will walk you through the key steps for successfully overwintering potted and garden-grown mums so you can enjoy their blooms season after season.

Overwintering Container-Grown Mums

For mums planted in pots and containers, the main goal is protecting the roots from extreme cold and preventing the soil from becoming waterlogged. Here are some tips:

  • Location – Before winter arrives, move the pots to an unheated garage, porch, or sheltered area of the garden. Avoid exposing them to icy winter winds

  • Remove Foil – Take off any decorative foil or wrapping from around the pots to allow air circulation and prevent rotting.

  • Water Carefully – Water just enough during winter to prevent the soil from drying out completely. Too much moisture can lead to root rot.

  • Provide Light – Give the dormant plants as much natural winter light as possible by placing near a window if indoors

  • Cut Back – In early spring, cut back any dead, damaged stems to about 4 inches from the soil. New growth will emerge from this.

  • Fertilize & Repot – When new shoots appear in spring, begin fertilizing. Repot in fresh soil if roots are crowded

With a bright sheltered spot and careful watering, container mums can successfully spend the winter ready to regrow when warmer weather returns.

Caring for Garden-Grown Mums Through Winter

In the garden, mums benefit from an insulating layer of mulch applied after the ground has frozen to buffer soil temperatures. Here are some tips:

  • Cut Back – After several hard frosts, prune back the dead foliage to around 4 inches above soil level. Leave some stems intact.

  • Add Mulch – Cover the soil around the plants with a 4-6 inch layer of straw, leaves, evergreen branches or other organic mulch once the ground has frozen solid.

  • Check Soil – Poke holes in the mulch and feel the soil occasionally. Water if needed to prevent drying out.

  • Remove Mulch – Rake back excess mulch in early spring so plants can emerge. Leave any intact foliage.

  • Protect New Growth – Add row cover fabric if frost threatens emerging buds and shoots in spring.

  • Stake Shoots – Insert stakes around plants to support tender new growth.

  • Renew Mulch – Reapply light mulch after threat of frost has passed to conserve moisture as plants regrow.

With adequate mulching, chrysanthemums planted in the garden have a good chance of surviving cold winters. Shelter them from wind for added protection.

Which Mums Are Best for Overwintering?

Not all mums are created equal when it comes to overwintering. Some varieties are naturally more cold hardy and better suited to reblooming than others. Look for these types:

  • Garden mums – Sold in full bloom, these compact, florist-quality types are bred for overwintering. Choose hardy cultivars rated for your zone.

  • Cushion mums – Low, mounded varieties that grow 6-12 inches tall. Excellent for borders.

  • Belgian mums – Big, dense blooms on 18-24 inch plants. Require staking but handle cold well.

  • Decorative mums – Shaggy, daisy-like flowers on tall 2-3 feet plants. May need pruning.

  • Football mums – Round, pom-pom style blooms. Dwarf 10-12 inch varieties work nicely in containers.

  • Anemone mums – Shallow, single daisy blooms with yellow centers on 2 foot plants. Striking and hardy.

When selecting mums for overwintering, check plant tags for variety names and stated hardiness zones. Talk to local gardeners about which have performed best in your area.

Getting a Head Start in Spring

Once spring hits, your overwintered mums will begin sending up fresh new growth. Here are some tips for transitioning them into the growing season:

  • Fertilize – Applying a balanced flower fertilizer when shoots emerge encourages lush growth. Use at half strength.

  • Monitor Soil – Check soil moisture frequently. Mums have shallow roots and dry out quickly once active.

  • Remove Mulch – Rake back winter mulch to allow sunlight to reach emerging plants.

  • Prune – Selectively prune out any dead branches and shape plants as needed in early spring.

  • Stake Stems – Insert stakes around plants and gently tie new stems to support them in wind and rain.

  • Scout for Pests – Watch for early aphids, mites, and other pests on new growth and take preventative action.

  • Transplant – Divide overcrowded mums or transplant those that have outgrown their space.

With proper spring care, your overwintered mums will leap into the growing season and reward you with a fuller plant and more abundant blooms later in fall.

Enjoying Success with Hardy Chrysanthemums

As you can see, wintering over chrysanthemums is not difficult with basic care and protection from harsh elements. The steps for overwintering container-grown plants versus those in garden beds are very similar. Proper placement, soil moisture monitoring, cutting back dead growth, and insulation with mulch will help mums survive cold snaps. Choosing naturally hardy varieties also boosts success. With information on winter care for mums, you can safely store these stately plants over winter and enjoy their luminous blossoms year after year.

Winter Care for Mums

The steps for wintering mums start when you plant them. Make sure that you plant your mums in well draining soil. Moms often die not from the cold, but from the ice that forms around their roots if they are planted in soil that holds water. Well draining soil is essential to successfully overwintering mums. You might want to plant your mums in a somewhat sheltered area so they won’t be exposed to winter winds that can hurt their chances of making it through the winter. The next step in winter care for mums is to properly insulate them in the fall. After a few hard frosts in your area, the plant’s leaves will turn brown and fall off. After the foliage of the plant has died back, you will need to cut it back. Cut back the stems of the mums to 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm. ) above the ground. You will have a full plant next year if you leave a little of the stems on. New stems will grow from the stems that you cut off. If you cut the mums back to the ground, fewer stems will grow next year. After this, it’s best to cover mums with a thick layer of mulch after the ground freezes for the winter. The mulch for winterizing mums can be straw or leaves. This layer of mulch helps to keep the ground insulated. Interestingly, the idea is to help prevent the ground from thawing during the winter during warm spells. Because the ground freezes, thaws, and freezes again, it does more damage to the plant than if it just stays frozen all winter. By following these easy steps, you can give your mums the winter care they need to make it through the cold weather and bloom again next year. How to winterize mums will not only keep them alive, but it will also save you money because you won’t have to buy new plants every year.

How to Overwinter Potted Mums – SGD 259


Can chrysanthemums survive winter?

Garden chrysanthemums (aka, hardy mums) are those cultivars of chrysanthemum that have been developed for winter hardiness. They have become very popular for adding color to the landscape in early fall, or for use as autumn décor on porches, decks, and patios around the home.

How to save chrysanthemums for next year?

Cut back the stems of the mums to 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm.) above the ground. Leaving a little bit of the stems will ensure that next year you have a full plant, as the new stems will grow from these trimmed stems. If you cut the mums back to the ground, fewer stems will grow next year.

What to do with potted mums in the winter?

The easiest way to keep your mum plants alive for next year is to bring the plants indoors. For potted plants this means cutting off the brown foliage and stems about 3–4 inches long above the soil, wrapping the pot, and bringing it inside to an unheated garage or shed.

How do you prepare chrysanthemums for winter?

If your mums have been growing in the landscape, after the first frost (not hard freeze), cut plants down as indicated above and cover the plants with 3”- 4” of mulch to protect them. Keep mums moist throughout the winter. Once the threat of frost has passed, remove the mulch layers and cut back any dead stems.

How do you care for chrysanthemums in winter?

This is why you need to take extra care with potted chrysanthemums during the winter. Move them indoors and transplant them to larger containers if possible. Use a pot with a hole that drains the water easily and prune it back. Remove any wilted or spent flowers. The more you prune, the healthier the plant will be in the spring.

Can You winterize chrysanthemums?

Chrysanthemums grow back bigger and better if you are able to nurture them through the cold season, so following this expert advice on how to winterize mums will be worth it. In USDA zones 8 and above, you can generally leave your plants alone if they’re planted in the ground. In these regions you don’t tend to get an extended freeze.

How to overwinter chrysanthemums?

It is therefore important to know how to overwinter your Chrysanthemums. The first way to go is to leave your plants outside. The upper part of the plant might get killed by the frost if you live in a cold climate. If this happens, simply cut them back to the ground. Give them some light, airy mulch.

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